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Paynesville Press - May 25, 2005

Public hearing scheduled for Highway 23 on June 28

By Michael Jacobson

The draft Environmental Impact Study on Highway 23 in Paynesville is scheduled to be released in early June with a public open house/ comment hearing set for Tuesday, June 28, at the school auditorium.

The study, to be used to determine the future route of Highway 23 through or around Paynesville, should be published on Friday, June 3, in the Federal Register and on Monday, June 6, in the EQB Monitor. This publication will start a 45-day official comment period on the draft document, which studies five possible routes for Highway 23: no build, improve the thru-town route, and three bypass options (east, far west, and west).

EIS Draft time table Copies of the draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will be available for the public to read at Paynesville City Hall and the Paynesville Public Library following publication.

MnDOT and their consulting engineers at Edwards and Kelcey (who were contracted to prepared the draft EIS) have concluded that all five possible routes appear to be viable, according to the information gathered in the draft EIS, and no "preferred alternative," or future route, has been identified yet.

MnDOT plans to use the official comments - along with the information gathered in the draft EIS - to determine the "preferred alternative" later this summer, following the close of the official 45-day comment period on Monday, July 18.

The majority of public comments are expected at the public hearing on Tuesday, June 28. This event will start with an unofficial question-and-answer open house with MnDOT personnel and Edwards and Kelcey engineers. Discussions during the open house will not be recorded for the official record.

At 7 p.m., a formal presentation will be given about the draft EIS, to be followed by a public comment period. This is intended solely for public input, not to ask questions of MnDOT or the consulting staff.

Also that night, a court reporter will be available to take one-on-one comments from people who do not wish to speak at the public hearing. And comment cards will be distributed. These can be returned by mail with comments. Or the public can write or e-mail their comments to MnDOT separately.

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